Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't have acted so happy and healthy..."

If you'd told me two weeks ago that I'd feel comfortable leaving Petey to go on vacation, I'd have told you that was impossible.

And yet here I am, debating how many sweaters one really does need to pack for a trip to Dublin/England/Paris.

Before you start thinking of me as a cold-hearted, unfeeling wench, let me assure you that Petey is 100% better. He's playing with his toys, gobbling down his meals, knocking down shop assistants to get treats, and snoring blissfully through the night. My friend Dina is coming to stay with him and I've already warned her that there are several locations where he will stop in his tracks until he can go in and get a cookie. There's a freezer full of Frosty Paws and marrow bones.

He'll probably growl when I get back.

In the meantime, I get to reunite with Clive and Co. in Dublin and have the honor of meeting Eric Square Dog and Otis on their home turf. No doubt I will return with enough quantities of dog hair on my collection of black sweaters that Petey will feel I brought Clive and Eric home with me.

Will fill you in on all the juicy details when I return.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Me and Mia

Over the years, on many a Saturday morning, I've grown accustom to hearing my doorbell ring followed by the door slowly opening (I leave it unlocked more often than I should) and then two little high-pitched voices asking "Can Petey come out and play?"

My neighbors' adorable granddaughters Liola and Mia have spent many weekends visiting their grandparents in the City. And over the years, they have come to know the small beige dog down the hall who is always happy to do a few tricks for some cookies, play ball (or circus, or dog show) in the hallway on a rainy or snowy afternoon, and even get two leashes attached to his collar so each of them could "take Petey for a walk" at the same time. Lucky for me, they'd even squabble over who got to pick up the poop!

Because sisters just a few years apart can quickly get on each other's nerves, the girls have been visiting one at a time rather than together lately. And Mia, so articulate and outspoken for her age (7), never fails to connect with me with her candor and wit.

One of my favorite "Mia-isms" was when she and Liola and I were walking Petey around the block and she looked up at me and with a huge sigh said "Dogs are my destiny."

When she and Liola got Loopy, a cinnamon-colored teacup poodle a few years ago, I said to Mia that I was glad she still loved Petey now that she had her own dog. She looked at me with an unblinking stare and said, "Don't be ridiculous, I hate you for even thinking that!" Point taken. I'd been dressed down by a first-grader.

Lately Mia hasn't been too pleased with our extended absences to Hilton Head. And as she and Liola get busier with their school activities and friends, I know those Saturday morning discussions and walks are going to become less frequent and my time with the girls will be cut even shorter as their grandparents become more reluctant to share their time with them. Already I miss them. One Sunday afternoon I came home to find the following note under my door:

Dear Jane,

I wanted to say hi but I forgot. I'll see you next weekend. Maybe.

Your friend,


I just loved the straight-forwardness of her message. Pure Mia. No sloppy sentiment, no over-promise. Maybe.

I'd been concerned how Liola and Mia might react to Petey's new appearance since his surgery. While less hair was cut over his brow than I'd imagined and his cheek is now velvety with new hair growing in, it still is a bit startling not to see both of his eyes under those shaggy brows. I spoke to their grandmother when I saw her by the mail room, so she could tell the girls what had happened to Petey before they saw him.

Sunday afternoon, I came home to find another note from Mia under my door. This brilliant and beautiful little girl had summed up my own feelings eloquently and succinctly.

Dear Jane,

I saw Petey. I was really sad when I saw him. But luckily, he didn't look too bad. Thanks for leaving the door open.

Your friend Mia

I have no doubt that their reunion was filled with hugs and kisses and heart-felt conversation. And I'm glad that it was private, that I wasn't there to eavesdrop. I'll keep Mia's note and look at it from time to time. There's so much to learn from children and I know I have found an amazing professor.

Mia, Petey and Liola, a couple years ago, after walking Petey down the hall.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

From Petey's pal Henry

Here's an action shot as Petey was in a big hurry to get his BIG cookie from his pal Henry out of sight/reach. He's so funny - anytime he gets a treat that he really loves (like Frosty Paws or a raw bone) he has to take it to a room all by if I'd really want it!

He's a goofball.

Back to the run on Friday evening to see his pals. You would never guess that anything was different - he was back to dropping the ball in front of his latest victim and then insisting that they throw the ball for him. If anything, he was more insistent than ever.

Can't tell you how happy this makes me!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Just heard from the surgeon that Petey's pathology report came back and there was NO tumor and NO CANCER! Systemic or localized! There was a tremendous amount of inflammation that could be caused by a spike in his blood pressure. So I guess this means no more salty snacks, cut back on bacon and more time playing and exercising!!!

We're thrilled to bits. Ice cream for EVERYONE!!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone!

Petey in his velcro'd cone this Spring when the tip of his ear got nipped at the dog run and bled and bled.
He liked this clear cone because he thought he looked like an astronaut, but anytime he shook his head, the ear would start bleeding again and he'd look like his head was in a blender, as you can see!

I have to admit, we've been a bit naughty. Our very nice vet techs brought Petey out wearing a rather complex clear hard plastic Elizabethan cone, that had tabs that were rather tough to fit into the slots and and an additional tie around his neck. After removing it for Petey to eat his dinner, the noise startled him so much that I went looking for the cone he got when the tip of his ear got nipped this Spring. Padded around the neck, velcro closure. Easy peasy.

The first night we were home after his surgery, I got a call from his surgeon, checking in and asking how he was doing. She said it was okay to take the cone off when he was sitting on the couch with me, out for a walk, or eating. That his stitches were secure but keep the cone on when I wasn't around or when he was sleeping at night so he wouldn't try to rub or scratch at his eye.

Petey relaxing in his enormous bed, with a ball (!!!), and without his cone!

I have to admit, now that we're on Day 6, he's barely wearing his cone at all, except when we go to bed. I did put it on him when I went to the gym this morning, but just hanging around the apartment, he's been cone-free. Still waiting to find out when we'll go back in for his followup appointment—we saw the Je + Jo ice cream vendor the other day and told her the story about "Je" being his surgeon and told her to tell her "boss" that Petey is doing great! Then we'll be able to throw away--err--store his cone, hopefully for GOOD!

In the meantime, he's howling his demands, smiling when I mention going out for a walk, and visiting some of his pals. Life is very good indeed - what a difference a week makes!

Friday, September 9, 2011

One small step for Petey, one giant leap for Jane!

Today's achievements for Petey....

Woke up with a wagging tail...

Took the stairs rather than the elevator when we went out for walks (good depth perception)...

Talked to his friend Denise at the bank to give him a cookie...

Jumped off the bed while wearing his cone, rather than waiting for me to lift him down...

Insisted on a walk of over an hour this afternoon, tugging all the way...

Played briefly with his favorite orange rubber ball!

We are grateful beyond words for all the sweet messages, prayers, and pep talks that we've received from you all this week. Really made an enormous difference in BOTH of our recoveries!

Much love from Jane and Petey

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The road to recovery

As the song goes, "Whatever gets you through the night, is alright, alright!"
The Excedrin are for me, the gourmet grub is for Petey. As my friend Glenn says, "I want a burger in a can!"

Well, it's our second day home and Petey is definitely making progress! He is happy to go for a nice long walk, even gave a Wheaten terrier a "what are you looking out?" Cujo-like snarl today. Trust me, this is a sign that things are getting back to normal - Boxers, Wheatens, some German Shepherds are all on Petey's "get'em before they get me" radar. And especially Huskies.

While we were waiting for his appointment on Tuesday morning, I saw a woman outside unloading four, count'em four Huskies from her SUV. I tried to quickly get one of the nurses' attention before they arrived in the lobby as I knew Petey, even in pain, would go nuts. (Once at the dog run when Petey was having a drink of water and marinating a tennis ball in the bowl, an enormous Malumute came up and put his mouth around Petey's neck. I screamed and leapt up, the dog's owner did the same, Petey picked up his tennis ball and trotted away unscathed. But ever since, he's gone cuckoo when he sees any variety of sled dog. Sorry Khyra! If you two were off-leash at the run, he'd be fine.)

Sure enough, the Huskies make it into the glass enclosed vestibule and Petey's barking and growling and snapping at his leash. I grab him and they send us off to an office and I just ask him "Really Petey? You were going to take on FOUR Huskies???"

Petey's always liked his sleep but now with the advantage of having one eye already closed, he seems to be napping more than ever. He's also still taking some pain meds that make him drowsy so I'm not too concerned - figure sleep is probably what his little body needs right now.

Or should I say, not-so-little-body. I think Petey's put on a pound or two since this ordeal began, not in small part from me coddling him with cookies, extra treats (ice cream - dog and human varieties), and fancy gourmet canned dog food (see photo). He was turning up his nose at his Wellness Healthy Weight kibble —and frankly, can you blame him? — and I thought that his sense of smell might be compromised a bit with his surgery, so we got some fancy grub that we usually only get for special occasions. (Petey highly recommends Merrick's Thanksgiving Dinner for all of your upcoming canine and feline holiday festivities.) Yesterday, he got about half a can for dinner and licked the bowl clean. Today a heaping spoonful on the kibble got the same results.

He happily trotted around the block last night with his buddy/bodyguard/wingman Bear and this morning would have pulled me down Bleecker Street to Soho if he'd had his way. He still wants to retreat to his "bunker" - a canvas bag of off-season clothes under the bed - so I've had to head him off at the pass. I don't want him getting dust in his eye or banging his cone against his head under the bed. So he's snoozing away on the top of the bed, legs occasionally twitching as he dreams.

Day by day. Definitely making progress.

Hey, if you didn't see my facebook post yesterday, our wonderful primary vet, Dr. DeLorenzo called to see how Petey was doing. She had not seen him during this whole ordeal because it was after hours when I first spotted his red eye and I took him to a vet a few blocks away who is open later in the evening. The surgeon had sent detailed reports to the referring vet and to Dr. DeLorenzo. Dr. D had called the surgeon and spoken with her then called me. Said to feel free to call her if I have any questions or if Petey just wants to drop by for a cookie (we can't walk by without him stopping in his tracks and pulling to go in to say "hello, I'd like a cookie please.).

It was a year ago today that Dr. DeLorenzo helped Mica on his way to the Bridge. Which just sort of added to the sadness and worry of the past week. I wasn't ready for news that Petey might be joining Mica at the Bridge anytime soon and fortunately, that reunion has been postponed indefinitely. A couple months after Mica died, I received a card from the Tufts University Veterinary School that a donation had been made in his memory by Dr. DeLorenzo and her staff.

Isn't that marvelous? It restores my faith in the goodness of people, especially those who love our pets almost as much as we do.

UPDATE: Perhaps too ambitiously, I took Petey for a walk over to the dog run, correctly assuming no one would be there during the afternoon (although there was much activity in the Meatpacking District in anticipation of Fashion's Night Out this evening). Got tears in my eyes when Petey trotted over to the first tennis ball, tentatively picked it up then rejected it for the next tennis ball which he carried around as he inspected the half dozen or so on the ground. Finally he dropped it in front of me, I gave it a little roll towards his good eye and he grabbed it and lay down. He was tired, so we walked over to the water bowl where he dropped the ball in then we walked home. About a block away, he slowed down a bit so we waited a little while and I carried him a bit. Now he's home, cone back on, up on the bed and having just taken a pain pill, I'm sure he'll soon be dreaming of chasing down tennis balls in the near future.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Petey news

For some reason, my recent post is listed as Monday at 7:30 p.m.! Anyhow, please read the next post for the news about this next phase of our lives.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Petey my brave little soldier...

To me, it's not so much a cone as a halo.
I'll get right to the point. Petey's eye had gotten worse, to the point where we made a visit to the emergency veterinary clinic on Saturday night when he was squinting, unwilling to open it, listless and clearly uncomfortable, hiding under the bed. The initial exam did not look good - there was pressure on his eye that made him feel like he had a 24-hour migraine. The vet on call did an eye exam and said he'd probably lost all vision in his eye. She sent a photo of his eye and her report on his exam to their veterinary opthomologist who said that he
may have a tumor causing the problem and would probably need to have his eye removed. I literally felt my blood turn to ice water as she told me this. Petey was given new drops to help control thepressure and it had gone down from 75 to 60 by Sunday afternoon when he went back to our local vet for x-rays and bloodtests to see if there were signs of cancer spreading. (Good news, the x-rays were clean and clear.) He also had new pain pills so he was more comfortable and almost back to his old self. I, on the other hand, was a shattered wreck.

Waiting, waiting, waiting through the long holiday weekend for our appointment on Tuesday morning. On Monday, Petey took me for a long walk in the morning and in the afternoon, we joined his pal Bear for a little walk (and some cookies at his favorite stops). There was a new ice cream cart on the corner called Je + Jo and the girl working there said that her boss was a big "dog lover" and gave us a free cup of vanilla for the dogs. Petey was thrilled and stood with his front paws on my knees so he wouldn't miss a drop. Since he wouldn't be able to have anything to eat after midnight in case he needed surgery on Tuesday, I felt it was perfectly fine to indulge him.
Waiting patiently for his next spoonful of ice cream.

In the pouring rain on Tuesday morning we went back to the NYC Veterinary Specialists (aka the emergency vet) to see the ophthalmologist, a very nice young woman named Dr. Jennifer Welser. As she examined his eye, I babbled about spoiling him with ice cream the day before and showed her a little video on my phone. (I wanted everyone there to love Petey as much as I do so they'd take extra good care of him.) "Where did you take that?" she asked suddenly. I told her and she laughed and said that Je + Jo ice cream was her sideline company! She was the "Je" of Je + Jo - the "dog-loving boss!" I told her that she was already taking good care of Petey before she'd even met him!

Anyhow, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that he does NOT have glaucoma and his right eye is perfectly healthy. His pathology and x-rays were clean and clear. However, a sonogram showed a massive hemorrhage and possible tumor in his eye and it would have to come out. My beautiful boy with those shiny brown eyes that smiled when you entered a room and would follow a tennis ball with laser-like focus would now have a permanently closed lid. (I'm teary just typing these words a day later.) I sat on the floor next to Petey while he dozed in a makeshift bed, just crying and stroking his coat and whispering silly songs and sayings to him. He so often is told that he resembles the dog in the Traveller's Insurance TV spots and the phrase "protect what you love the most" kept ringing in my ears. I carried him into the surgery, covering his head with kisses and more salty tears.

About an hour later the doctor came in and said that everything had gone fine, he was in recovery sleeping off his anesthesia. When the vet tech brought him back into the room, his tail was wagging. She put him on the exam table and his nose went right for the container of liver treats that had been forbidden beforehand. He eagerly ate about a dozen then and there, even giving the vet tech a "high five" before he got one (with the little catheter still taped to his paw!). Then he settled back down on the bed in the corner and I sat pressed next to him for the next hour and a half while he dozed in his big plastic cone, his shaved eyebrow giving his closed eye a bit of an "ah ha!" look. More tears, not so many this time, and many words of reassurance. Angus of wrote poignantly yesterday that "As blind dog owners learn 'to be trusted is an even greater compliment than to be loved.'" And while Petey is definitely not blind, he is disoriented -- as someone eloquently put it, his brain needs a bit of rewiring.

Got home in yet another downpour almost 11 hours after we'd left. Petey wasn't too interested in food, but I got him settled in his bed and ran across the street to the deli to get a roast beef sandwich for my dinner as I too had not eaten all day. I could only face a half a sandwich and since Petey was refusing to eat his own dinner, he proceeded to eat the lion's share of mine. Then allowed himself to be hand-fed another handful of kibble. To bed at 10:30, slept soundly until I insisted he get up this morning at 10:00 AM for a walk around the block which he did quite well. Still not interested in kibble, but more roast beef allowed me to get his antibiotic and pain pill in him. A little snooze in his own bed, then he walked into the kitchen on his own accord and drank some water and finished his kibble. Progress!

He is indeed my brave little soldier, now with a battle scar to prove it. Or as he told me, "Mom, now all the girls will think I'm winking at them!" Once I see him pick up a tennis ball, this ball of ice will finally melt inside of me.

In the meantime, many thanks for your kind words and encouragement. The power of the paw!